Watch out, gay men — the women are coming to get you.
Anthony Watson is a millionaire businessman, a member of GLAAD’s board and a donor to Stonewall. According to the Guardian in 2014, he is “one of the most influential gay men in the world.”
And he has written a letter.
It’s an open letter and signed by 73 prominent gay men. What he describes in it is shocking:
As gay men we have watched in horror at the cruelty inflicted upon the trans community.The most vulnerable people in our society are marginalised, scared and endangered. Trans communities, and in particular trans children, are under attack on a daily basis…No community should — or can — be expected to withstand the personal and unyielding public scrutiny and demonisation of their existence.
According to Watson, trans communities are denied the ‘basic protections and rights we as gay men enjoy.’ (Watson doesn’t specify what these ‘basic protections and rights’ are).
He makes a plea for allyship:
We, as gay men, must stand with them. Being an ally requires more than passive support. Today’s transphobia is yesterday’s recycled homophobia. We all remember and feel the impact of the pernicious Section 28.
And because he’s not a man to do things by halves, he shoehorns in a Nazi Germany reference:
We are reminded of Martin Niemöller’s poem “First they came for the for the…”
In case any of his readers haven’t got the point yet, he pushes it home with a chilling warning:
Transphobic people aren’t just coming for trans rights; they’re coming for all of us.
So who are these dangerous, vindictive transphobic people — and, more importantly, how the hell can we stop them?
I know who they are.
They’re the women who have been abused or raped by men and are now terrified of being in close proximity to a male-bodied person.
They’re the young lesbians who don’t understand why they’re made to feel shame for excluding male-bodied people from their dating pool.
They’re the frightened parents of children who have been rushed into taking puberty blockers because some clinicians are being bullied by a small number of aggressive transgender activists.
They’re the transsexual community, demonised because they don’t believe that ‘trans women are women’ and ‘trans men are men.’
They’re the feminists who want to be able to describe their oppression as they choose to describe it, without having their terminology and their politics checked by woke men.
According to Watson, these are the people who are coming after your rights, gay men.
There is plenty of pain and fear to go around here — the good-and-evil vision Watson conjures is nowhere near the reality. The truth is complicated and nuanced, as the Guardian acknowledged in Autumn 2018.
Transphobia exists — but Watson’s letter does not tackle that problem. Rather than uniting LGBT communities, his crude misrepresentations will only divide us further.
The signatories of this letter have no doubt signed with good intentions. I hope some of them will resolve to look more closely and listen more carefully — especially to women.